If you're sharing food photos for your wellness business, the bottom line is - they have to look good.
Are you with me?
The burning question I hear all the time from health coaches and other wellness professionals is ...
"Can I get decent pictures using my iPhone, or do I need to buy a better camera?"
Okay, so let's just take a step back for a minute and get a real scope for what it means to invest in a "better camera". It's important to get real about this and admit that a "better camera" won't necessarily promise better photos.
A camera doesn't take pretty pictures. A photographer does.
Although a quality camera will help produce quality results, it's up to you to know how to use it. And there is a reason why there are photography schools - and professional photographers. It involves skill, technique, and artful eye, and a butt-load of technical mastery.
So ... until you're ready and willing to invest some hefty time into learning the technicalities of photography and using a fancy photo machine ... there are things you can do right now with your iPhone to make sure your healthy food photos turn out pretty decent.
And they can - I promise.
If you're working with an iPhone right now, what I would suggest is this ... invest in professional photography for most of your branding needs. Supplement the professional imagery with your own photos of your own recipes ... and take the time to make them good.
Here are five basic secrets you should master to get you started with iPhone food photography.
Make sure your subject is in focus. I'm seeing this a lot in food imagery these days ... photos that are blurry. Blurry photos make food appear mushy and super unappetizing. Please don't make that mistake.
How to: Just touch the screen where you want your camera to be in focus. For instance, if you're photographing an apple - tap on the apple and watch to see the camera adjust.
A good rule of thumb is to focus on the piece which is closest to the camera. So, if you're photographing a bunch of grapes, be sure to focus (tap) on the grape that is closest to you.
Note: If you make the mistake of taking an out of focus picture of a cooked meal ... the "mushiness" factor is really elevated.
Notice the difference in "crispness" & "freshness" appearance in the two images below:
Out of focus
2. Adjust Exposure
Please don't get overwhelmed, I promise this isn't too technical. "Adjusting exposure" simply means making your picture brighter or darker.
How to: After tapping on the screen to focus on your subject, you'll see a box and a little sun icon appear. The box indicates the area of focus, and the sun icon means your photo is ready for exposure adjustments. Simply slide your finger up or down in order to make the image brighter or darker.
Notice the difference in brightness in the two images below:
Without Exposure Adjustment
After Exposure Adjustment
I know, I know ... filters are fun, and it's easy to go cray-cray. But please keep filters minimal with your food photos. Many filters have the tendancy to make images look "muddy", over-saturated, drastically contrasty, too soft, or too yellow. Blech! It's safer to make your own adjustments, which we'll talk about next.
How to: Just don't.
Note: Filters are especially undesirable for cooked food or meals. They make the food look especially mushy and unappetizing. Filters typically create a more "soft" or "vintage" affect. You can get away with filters more so on fresh produce, but you typically still lose that crisp, vibrant look and feel. The choice is yours as to how you want your food to appear.
Another Note: Here are two images that I applied Instagram filters to (please don't do this). A couple things to notice ... the food looks pretty warm/orange-y. The whites are super bright, so you can't see any definition, and the darks are really "muddy". The crispness of the food has been lost. It doesn't even really look edible anymore.
Hint: you really want your food photos to look edible.
Or, rather ... make some minor post-adjustments.
I'm not sure if you've notice this yet, but since you're here (and obviously pretty savvy) I'm guessing you have -
No matter how gorgeous your food looks in real life, those iPhone photos come out looking kinda dull ... right?
'Tis the story of digital photography. So let's make some minor tweaks and get your photos popping as much as your food does in real life (or as much as you'd like to imagine it does).
How to: Use an editing app to make some basic adjustments to taste. The main adjustments you'll want to consider are:
- Warmth/White Balance
You can use the in-phone iPhone editing tools - or - here are a couple apps I like to use for adjustments:
Note: Once you get the hang of Snapseed, it offers you the most control and is my number one recommendation for adjusting your food photos.
If you've read any of my other food photo tutorials, you're probably catching on that this is the most important element of your photos. Here it is popping up again - why? Because if your lighting is poop - your photos are going to be poop too.
Yes I said it ... the "P" word.
How to: You should always always always .... always ... use natural light for your food photos. Natural window light is the best. It's soft, it's natural, it's forgiving. Two lighting sources NEVER to use:
- Your camera flash
- Lamp light or Overhead light
FAQ: But what if it's dark and there is no available natural light?
Answer: Don't take a photo. Period. You're making this your job. So as part of your job, you need to time your photo shoots for the best time to get natural lighting. Creating beautiful photos worthy of representing your business can't necessarily happen on a whim.
Be honest here ... which image is more likely to make you want to eat it?
(And which ones look like dark and scary Frankinberries?)
(notice the harsh shadows)
(Notice the yellow/orange light cast. Ew)
Natural Window Light
(notice the soft shadows, more balanced whites and more true colors - do the berries look more fresh to you?)